Day­ton lead­ers push area for Ama­zon HQ

On­line re­tail gi­ant seeks site for $5 bil­lion of­fices, 50,000 jobs.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE -

Some early pre­dic­tions for where Ama­zon will de­cide to build its sec­ond head­quar­ters do not in­clude the Day­ton re­gion.

Some jour­nal­ists, re­search groups and busi­ness an­a­lysts don’t have any Ohio city on their short list of con­tenders.

But Day­ton of­fi­cials and elected lead­ers say they are not de­terred be­cause the re­gion checks many of the boxes im­por­tant to Ama­zon for the site of its new $5 bil­lion head­quar­ters.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials say they in­tend to make a com­pelling case for why south­west Ohio is a great fit for the on­line re­tail gi­ant’s mas­sive project, which is ex­pected to re­sult in 50,000 new jobs and bil­lions of dol­lars in ad­di­tional in­vest­ment.

“We have a lot of op­por­tu­nity here,” said Day­ton Mayor Nan Wha­ley. “If this lands some­where in south­west Ohio, we all win.”

Ama­zon this month is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als from metro re­gions in North Amer- ica that want its sec­ond head- quar­ters (called HQ2).

The com­pany, which is one of the world’s largest on­line re­tail­ers, is giv­ing ju­ris­dic- tions un­til Oct. 19 to sub­mit a re­sponse out­lin­ing why it is the ideal place for Ama­zon’s project.

Since the so­lic­i­ta­tion went out, many cities across the na­tion have said they plan to try to woo Ama­zon.

Last week, this news­pa­per re­vealed that the city of Day­ton would en­ter the HQ2 race, de­spite what is sure to be fierce com­pe­ti­tion. An anal­y­sis by Geek­wire

puts the front-run­ners as Toronto, Ot­tawa, Bos­ton, Philadel­phia and Chicago.

Brook­ings did an anal­y­sis that de­ter­mined the best 20

con­tenders, and it in­cluded New York City, Philadel­phia, Bos­ton, Detroit, At­lanta and Min­neapo­lis. Nei­ther anal­y­sis, or sev­eral oth­ers, listed a city in Ohio as a likely fa­vorite.

The pre­dic­tions have been based on some of the pre­fer- ences Ama­zon has shared.

The com­pany wants a metro area with more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple; a busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment that is sta­ble and friendly; ur­ban or subur- ban lo­ca­tions with po­ten­tial to at­tract and re­tain strong tech­ni­cal tal­ent; and com- mu­ni­ties that think big and cre­atively for lo­ca­tions and real es­tate op­tions.

Other key con­sid­er­a­tions in­clude hav­ing suit­able build­ings and sites, fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives and a suffi- ciently sized and highly ed­u­cated la­bor pool.

Ama­zon also said a strong univer­sity sys­tem is re­quired, and the com­pany wants to in­vest in a com­mu­nity where its em­ploy­ees will have a high qual­ity of life.

Some ob­servers al­ready have ruled out Day­ton on the grounds that it does not meet the pop­u­la­tion cri­te­ria. The Day­ton metro area has slightly more than 800,000 peo­ple.

But city lead­ers said Day­ton is close to Cincin­nati, and the com­bined metro ar­eas are the 15th largest re­gion in the United States. The Day­ton metro area in­cludes Greene, Mi­ami and Mont­gomery coun­ties. The Cincin­nati metro area has nearly 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple.

“As a re­gion, and an uber re­gion here in south­west

Ohio, the as­sets we have are just enor­mous,” Wha­ley said. “We un­der­sell our­selves too of­ten.”

Also, Day­ton has a com­mit- ment to in­clu­siv­ity, a strong work­force, renowned uni­ver­si­ties and re­search in­sti­tu­tions, a U.S. Air Force base and a grow­ing lo­gis­tics in­dus­try, Wha­ley said.

Day­ton is reg­u­larly re­ferred to as the “Cross­roads of America,” be­cause it is where In­ter­state 70 and 75 in­ter­sect, and lo­cal of­fi­cials claim south­west Ohio is a day’s drive from about half of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion.

“There are a lot of strate- gic dis­cus­sions go­ing on right now about how we can put our best foot for­ward,” said Day­ton City Man­ager Shel­ley Dick­stein.

Ama­zon says its cap­i­tal in­vest­ment could ex­ceed $5 bil­lion over 15 to 17 years of the project.

The com p any says it ex­pects to cre­ate as many as 50,000 new jobs that on av­er­age pay more than $100,000 an­nu­ally.

Ama­zon con­structed 33 build­ings as part of its Seat­tle head­quar­ters that have 8.1 mil­lion square feet of space.

Ama­zon em­ploys more than 40,000 peo­ple at its orig­i­nal head­quar­ters. Ama­zon says its in­vest­ments led to $38 bil­lion in ad­di­tional spend­ing.

But not everyone agrees that Ama­zon is great for the lo­cal econ­omy.

El­dar Gur­banov said he re­cently moved to the Day­ton re­gion from Seat­tle be­cause the city be­came too ex­pen­sive.

Gur­banov said he’s an Uber drive who could not keep up with ris­ing costs.

“Even a shack — a bad con­di­tioned house — costs like $500,000 to $600,000,” he said. “We ran away from

Ama­zon — it’s crazy, they are buy­ing ev­ery­thing there.”

Gur­banov said Ama­zon pays very well, but it brings in work­ers from all over the coun­try, in­stead of us­ing the lo­cal la­bor force.

STUART ISETT / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pedes­tri­ans walk past a re­cently built trio of ge­o­desic domes that are part of the Seat­tle head­quar­ters com­plex for Ama­zon.

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